Washington, D.C. – In a win for Maine dairy farmers, an amendment authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that will promote innovation and increase demand for milk products was included in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill. The final agreement comes after the Senate and House of Representatives worked for weeks to reconcile the differences between each chamber’s version of the legislation. The 2018 Farm Bill received overwhelming bipartisan support and passed the Senate by a vote of 87-13, and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senators Collins and Baldwin’s amendment will provide $7 million for grants to state departments of agriculture, cooperative extension services, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to administer programs that promote dairy product innovation, process improvement, and marketing. Senator Angus King (I-ME) was a cosponsor of their amendment.
“Our amendment will support Maine’s hardworking dairy farmers by increasing awareness of milk’s many health benefits and investing in innovative methods for processing milk and dairy products,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of my colleagues joined me in advancing this amendment that will help provide critical support to this integral part of our agriculture community.”
“Maine’s dairy farmers work hard to create a great product – so let’s help them sell it!” said Senator King.
The Dairy Business Innovation Act will establish regional initiatives to spur innovation in dairy businesses, which can help add more value to the milk farmers produce and expand uses for milk to address oversupply and depressed milk prices. The legislation will also foster the development of new and innovative dairy products, modernize existing dairy plants and support new dairy entrepreneurs.
Specifically, the regional initiatives created by the Dairy Business Innovation Act will provide technical assistance and grants for the purpose of:
· Supporting new and expanding dairy businesses—Initiatives will provide assistance with business plan development, accounting, market evaluation, and strategic planning.
· Promoting innovation in dairy products—Dairy businesses will be able to receive assistance with product innovation, marketing and branding, packaging, distribution, supply chain innovation, food safety training and consultation, dairy product production training.
· Assisting with dairy plant modernization and process improvement—Dairy businesses will be able to receive assistance with processing facility improvement, including assistance with plant upgrades, food safety modernization, energy and water efficiency, byproduct reprocessing and use maximization, and waste treatment.